From its roots in sidewalk surfing and now with its Olympic debut, skateboarding is an essential part of street culture.
Tokyo 2020 competition animation "One Minute, One Sport"
We will show you the rules and highlights of skateboarding in one minute. Whether you are familiar with skateboarding or want to know more about it, "One Minute, One Sport" explains the sport and how it works. Watch the video below.
A skateboard is a short, narrow board with two small wheels attached to the bottom of either end. Skateboarders ride on this apparatus to perform tricks including jumps (ollies), flips and mid-air spins. The sport of skateboarding will make its Olympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
There are various theories about the origins of skateboarding, but it is generally held that the sport began in the 1940s on the west coast of the USA when metal wheels were attached to a narrow wooden board. In the 1950s, clay composite replaced metal as the material of choice for the wheels, and the first ‘Sidewalk Surfboard’ became commercially available, which in turn developed into the skateboard that we know today. The sport was a big hit with the younger generation and with the advent of the urethane wheel in the 1970s, grew in global popularity. Since the 1980s, skateboarding has been an essential part of street culture.
- Park (Men/Women)
- Street (Men/Women)
Essence of the sport
Supreme skills and youthful cool
There will be two disciplines on the Skateboarding programme at Tokyo 2020: street and park. The competition will include both men's and women's events, with athletes demonstrating their considerable skills in a celebratory, festival-like atmosphere.
This competition is held on a straight ‘street-like’ course featuring stairs, handrails, curbs, benches, walls and slopes. Each skateboarder performs individually and uses each section to demonstrate a range of skills, or ‘tricks’. Judging takes into account factors such as the degree of difficulty of the tricks, height, speed, originality, execution and the composition of moves, in order to award an overall mark.
Skateboarders often ‘slide’ the wooden deck of their skateboards and ‘grind’ the metal trucks (components which connect the wheels and bearings to the deck of the skateboard) directly along the course's curbs and handrails.
When riding along the course and in order to get their skateboards on top of or over the rails and curbs, competitors often perform an ‘ollie’, a trick whereby the rider and board leap into the air without the use of the rider's hands. Skilled skateboarders make this difficult trick appear easy.
The side-on position taken by riders of surfboards and skateboards is known as their ‘stance’. A position with the left leg facing the direction in which the skateboarder wishes to move is known as ‘regular stance’, while some prefer to position their right leg facing the direction in which they wish to move, which is known as ‘goofy foot’. A skateboarder's usual stance is called their ‘main stance’; when changing the position of the front leg during competition, this is known as ‘switch stance’. The marks awarded for tricks performed with the main stance differ from those performed with switch stance, as the degree of difficulty is increased with the latter.
A common trick for skateboarders is to ollie and then flip the deck of the skateboard in various ways under their feet, miraculously bringing the board back to their feet before landing. An added variation to flipping the board is to also rotate the body at the same time. When performed well, after the board is flipped, the skateboarder can make it appear as if the board reattaches to the feet by magnet. Parallel, length-wise and other dynamic, multi-dimensional flips all require a high level of technique.
Park competitions take place on a hollowed-out course featuring a series of complicated curves — some resembling large dishes and dome-shaped bowls. From the bottom of the cavity, the curved surfaces rise steeply, with the upper part of the incline either vertical or almost vertical. Among the attractions of park competitions are the immense heights achieved by climbing the curves at speed and performing amazing mid-air tricks.
The variety of tricks available to a skateboarder increases with the height gained launching out of the park’s curves. The degree of difficulty can depend on whether the deck of the skateboard is grabbed with a hand when performing mid-air tricks, which part of the deck is grabbed, which hand is used to grab the deck and the posture of the rider while grabbing the deck.
Difficulty and originality also increase if the deck is rotated in mid-air, flipped or if the competitor is able to rotate their body while in mid-air. Other tricks include variations of balancing (stalls), grinds and slide tricks on the ‘lip’ of the ramp.
Outlook for the Tokyo 2020 Games
A unique experience in a dynamic urban venue
In skateboarding, the rider is free to select which parts of the course to tackle and which tricks to perform. Even when the same tricks are performed, the flow of the performance can depend greatly on the speed attained. While speed is an important element, marks are awarded for the overall level of difficulty and originality.
In addition, competition judges also take into account the overall flow, timing, consistency and the extent skateboarders are able to create the sensation of being suspended in mid-air.
Music is an important accompaniment and will contribute to a vibrant and youth-focused atmosphere at the Aomi Urban Sports Venue, which will also host 3x3 basketball and sport climbing. This temporary facility will be the dynamic and innovative home to the Games' newest events, increasing the opportunity for engagement with fans and delivering a unique Tokyo 2020 experience.
They are still made of wood
In the 1970s some decks were made of fiberglass, but since the 1980s decks have generally been produced using hard maple veneers. Hard maple is a strong, durable and pliable wood that strikes the perfect balance between strength and flexibility. Incidentally, skateboards are produced using technologies employed in the manufacture of furniture. Many skateboard factories both in Japan and overseas started as furniture producers.